Mark Cantor (pictured, right), the preeminent jazz film archivist, has established a web channel of clips. If the first batch is an indication, the collection has the makings of a bonanza for viewers interested in the music and in the convoluted history of jazz in motion pictures and on television.
As an example of the choice moments Cantor has posted: just in case you didn’t see Sweetheart Of The Campus when it came out in 1941, you missed a rare movie appearance by Leo Watson and the Spirits of Rhythm. Watson (pictured, left) developed his infectious scat singing style before the term was in general use. He influenced later scat specialists including Ella Fitzgerald and Eddie Jefferson. He worked with Gene Krupa and made appearances on records with Artie Shaw, Slim Gaillard, Benny Goodman, Vic Dickenson and Billie Holiday. In his YouTube commentary on the clip, Cantor writes:
Teddy Bunn accompanies on guitar, and that is either Wilbur or Douglas Daniels on tipple to the left; they were both in the group, but I don’t know which of the two made the film gig. The string bass looks like Wilson Myers to me, but of this I am not certain.
As for the bandleader who introduces the Spirits of Rhythm, yes, he’s that Ozzie Nelson.
Cantor has also posted film or TV performances by—among others—Punch Miller, The Lighthouse All-Stars, Adrian Rollini and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. Surely, L-H-R knew about Leo Watson. To see Cantor’s collection so far, go here.